Friday, October 09, 2015

Lurkers of the Abandoned Lands: More from THE WRONG KIND OF DEAD

This is what I’ve been noodling on since last weekend. How’s this for hot off the pixelated presses?

THE SETUP: Derek and Agnes Grace are flying with Dr. Hearn on his specially equipped jet to survey an area where an especially large horde of Infected/ Undead/walkers/rotters maybe lurking...and stalking. Dr. Hearn has video footage he’s showing Derek Grace by way of letting him know just how messed up things are in the vast countryside outside of the Redoubts, where humanity’s elites carry on with all the comforts, as if the zombie apocalypse never happened:

“Click the button on the video I called up. This was five days ago, in the area we’re about to fly over. We got this much footage from Sgt. Kinney’s body camera before all electronic tethers were cut, including GPS signals to the soldier’s phones. We’d wondered if the Infected had taken and smashed the phones. After Col. Grinnell’s actions yesterday, I’ve got a better idea as to what might have happened. Whatever the cause of that, though, our problem remains…oh, here we are.”

The view on the middle screen opens amid a vast, rolling waste of fallow cornfields. “What the hell are they even doing out there?”

“There was an Unsponsored Refugee Camp that vanished Lost Colony style a few days before this. Everyone gone, along with the food, but no luggage taken. There was some sign of struggle, but no blood. The tracks exited at a radiant all around the encampment, so there was no one trail to follow. Maybe we were supposed to think they went to all points in the compass, but there were so many footprints, far more than could be accounted for given the population of the camp.”

“Heh. Agnes called it.”

“I’m sorry?”

“I’d speculated that the Redoubts maintained refugee camps to outsource labor intensive projects to. Agnes envisioned a rotting corn field in the middle of Nebraska. Nice to see the Redoubts think enough of their scut labor to send armed patrols out looking for them when they go off the reservation.”

“I sent the search teams out,” Dr. Hearn says. “One for each point of the compass. I had a feeling something was going on with the Infected. Since the thaw we’ve observed behaviors that are… troubling.”

“Dead people organizing around a leader, carrying out tasks?”

“I take it you’ve seen a project manager, then,” says Dr. Hearn. “Trust me, Mr. Grace, you have no idea. Watch.”

The voices of the other men are barely audible over the sounds of desiccated corn stalks crackling beneath their feet “I know they’re around here,” says the sergeant. “Christ almighty, it smells like we just walked up one’s asshole.”

“It’s not like they got anywhere to hide out here,” says a voice off camera.

“They’re lurking somewhere. Everyone stay—”

The sergeant cuts himself short as a barking “Ah!” is heard. I can’t tell the direction from the microphone but judging by how the men are looking this way and that, the barks are coming from points all around.

The percussive barks become drawn out wails, and the voices about them rise in eerie harmony. The men form a circle, their backs to one another.  The view from Sergeant Kinney’s body cam shows endless rolling fields of brown and gray leaves of unharvested corn —endless rolling fields that burst upwards, leaves flying, dirt raining from the rags hanging about the bilious yellow bodies writhing upwards to their feet. As soon as they find their balance they stumble forward, moaning that ghastly tone….

“Anyone see a way through where they are?” the sergeant shouts over the singing dead.



“Fuck no.”

“Oh God….”

“All right, all right,” says Sgt. Kinney. “On my signal we’ll give them three rounds, then move twenty paces down where we came from. Don’t waste a shot.”

“Sergeant, there ain’t no goddamn way—”


They fire their rounds, one, two, three. The sergeant is an excellent shot. It hardly matters. I have the seat-scooching sight of all those dirty faces and black, gnashing teeth, those hands and grasping fingers reaching for…for the camera, dear God, why am I watching this? After a full automatic discharge of remaining rounds, Sgt. Kinney’s weapon is pulled away from him. The image is jostled, darkened as the hands and fingers grasp at him and…

“Set the controls for the Uncanny Valley!”’s not what you think. No, it’s actually worse. How could it possibly be worse? I’ve yet to write that part. Hell, I’m dreading writing that part, it’s that goddamned bad. Stomach-dropping, blood freezing horrors are in the forecast for me this October weekend.

Meanwhile, I have actual, finished works for you to read while you’re waiting on me to get over my squicked-out heebie-jeebies. I link to excerpts from all my stuff from Twitter, so give me a follow there if you haven’t already.